India is fast emerging as a sporting nation. Sports is no longer restricted to only the playing fields; it has moved beyond and is reaching corporations, breaking boundaries and geographies.
As content continues to make waves in the current scheme of things in our media and entertainment industry, sports is carving its own niche within this space, making it a meaningful form of media for brands to reach faster and deeper into the mind space of the desired target audience.
We, as a nation, are no longer confined to our prowess in cricket as bragging rights to the world. The emergence of Hima Das (sprint runner), Manika Batra (table tennis player), P.V. Sindhu (first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal in badminton), and Dipa Karmarkar (gymnast) has paved the way to put the spotlight on India in a multitude of sports and thus a desire in brands to partner in our sporting events. Sporting properties offer more and more interesting opportunities to brands with leagues like Indian Premier League, Indian Super League, and Pro Kabaddi League all becoming popular.
It is becoming far more important to know what role sports will play in your marketing mix in the coming year. The global talent showcase is making sports one of the most viable options for brands in terms of marketing spend.
Brands like Swiggy, Dream11, and Netmeds have all grown from strength to strength and continue to grow, given the amount of money these brands are investing (including IPL & ICC Cricket World Cup 2019). Real-life sporting heroes have built better connect and more meaningful conversations than the reel-life (Bollywood) heroes. For instance, on one hand, one man, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (former captain, Indian cricket), enjoys a god-like status in Chennai, and on the other, one social media post from one football player, Sunil Chhetri, drives fans to flood the entire stadium in Mumbai to support a football match.
There is a growing focus on non-live content around IPL and other sports leagues, as fans are being delighted by experiences (e.g., auction, pre and post-shows, building team rivalries pre-match, behind-the-scenes content) that go beyond just the live match.
Clearly, it is a great sign for our industry that sports is fast becoming a more meaningful media for brands and brand custodians, resulting in the emergence of new players. Not only is it benefitting the entire industry ecosystem, it is also opening new avenues to increase the meaningful score for the brands moving out from the traditional media.
Sports is definitely becoming my most meaningful media platform, one that I enjoy and in which I find relevant opportunities for our clients at Havas India.